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George Karl says he could see LeBron returning to Cleveland to play for Cavaliers

Jan 13, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Miami Heats LeBron James looks on during their NBA basketball game against his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland Reuters

We all remember how LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency. It wasn’t pretty, and he even later said he would do things differently if he had the chance.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was famously critical of the way LeBron left the franchise, feeling as though James owed the team that drafted him and employed him for seven seasons more than simply going out with an announcement on national television, rather than giving the team a heads up before doing so.

There are plenty of road blocks in place for James to return to Cleveland, and although he tried to open that door a bit last year by saying he wouldn’t rule that out, it would be tough to see him welcomed back to town by the organization.

As much of a longshot as it may seem, at least one knowledgable observer thinks there’s a possibility it could happen.

From Chris Tomasson of FOXSportsFlorida:

“I think LeBron is at that stage where he’s challenging himself to motivate him to do something that’s maybe more difficult,” Denver coach George Karl told FOX Sports Florida before Friday’s game against Cleveland at the Pepsi Center. “I could see him maybe doing that (returning to the Cavaliers).”

Karl, who coached Cleveland from 1984 to 1986, offered a primary reason why he could see a return by James, an Akron, Ohio, native who played for the Cavaliers from 2003 to 2010 before bolting to Miami when he became a free agent.

“I see (Kyrie) Irving maybe being a reason for that,” Karl said of the reigning Rookie of the Year, who leads Cleveland in scoring with a 23.5 average.

Miami would have to fall completely out of title contention for James to even consider leaving, given the fact that he’s already won a championship there playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and that life in South Beach is considerably more desirable than that in Ohio.

But there’s something to be said about coming home again, and if the stars should align just right, James may in fact consider playing for his hometown Cavaliers again — but only in the event that all of his other reasonable options have been exhausted.

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